Tag Archives: Columbidae

Ptilinopus goodwinii Holyoak

Lilac-crowned Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus goodwinii)


Cook Islands: ‘Atiu, Ma’uke

local names:

kukupa – ‘Atiu / Cook Islands


This Lilac-crowned Fruit Dove is officially treated as a subspecies of the Rarotongan Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus rarotongensis Hartlaub & Finsch) from the island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands, yet differs quite much from that species and can be separated as a distinct species.

The species is now restricted to the island of ‘Atiu, Cook Islands, but another subspecies, not yet formally described, formerly inhabited the neighboring island of Ma’uke.


Historical records of fruit doves from the islands of Aitutaki and Mangaia, Cook Islands, are most likely best regarded as distinct species as well.


edited: 01.01.2019

Ducula galeata (Bonaparte)

Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon (Ducula galeata)

For a very long time this bird was thought to be endemic to the Marquesan island of Nuku Hiva – this, however, turned out to be far from the truth.

In fact, in historical times this species had a much wider geographical range, including the Cook Islands, as well as the Society Islands, and of course all of the Marquesan Islands as well. The birds were extirpated from most of their former range already by the Polynesian settlers, and had their last refuge on the island of Nuku Hiva – a situation that is called artificial endemism (… in fact, there are several other bird species within Polynesia that share the same situation …).

The Nukuhiva Imperial Pigeon is a huge bird, reaching about 55 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail, it is therefore the largest surviving pigeon species in Polynesia.

Nevertheless the bird is far from being flightless.

The endangered species was reintroduced to another of the Marquesasn islands, Ua Huka, were it is breeding since, and the future of this impressive species seems to be a good and save one.


Photo: Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge); by courtesy of Virginie & Fabien (fabvirge)


Alopecoenas nui (Steadman)

Giant Ground Dove (Alopecoenas nui)

The Giant Ground Dove is known only from subfossil bones which were found on the islands of Mangaia, Cook Islands; Kamaka, Gambier Islands; Hiva Oa, Tahuata and Ua Huka, Marquesas as well as Huahine, Society Islands.

The species was sympatric on the Cook-, Gambier- and Society Islands with the smaller Polynesian Ground Dove (Alopecoenas erythroptera (Gmelin)) and on the Marquesan Islands with the Marquesas Ground Dove (Alopecoenas rubescens (Vieillot)), and perhaps with additional, yet extinct species.

The Giant Ground Dove was no true giant, but was still larger than all its Polynesian congeners, reaching a size of about 36 cm.



[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University Of Chicago Press 2006
[2] Jean-Claude Thibault; Alice Cibois: From early Polynesian settlements to present: bird extinctions in the Gambier Islands. Pacific Science 66(3): 1-26. 2011
[3] Knud A. Jønsson; Martin Irestedt; Rauri C. K. Bowie; Les Christidis; Jon Fieldså: Systematics and biogeography of Indo-Pacific ground-doves. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59: 538-543. 2011

Ptilinopus chrysogaster Gray

Golden-bellied Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus chrysogaster)


Society Islands: Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Ra’iatea, Taha’a

local names:

u’upa – Society Islands


This species, officially considered a subspecies of the Grey-green Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus purpuratus (Gmelin)) from Mo’orea and Tahiti, Society Islands, inhabits the leeward islands of the same archipelago, namely the islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Maupiti, Ra’iatea and Taha’a.

The species has a much brighter yellow belly and a much brighter pink coloured cap (not visible in the depiction).



Depiction from: ‘Journal des Museum Godeffroy 1. 1873’

(public domain)


edited: 01.01.2019